SRU provost releases final department restructuring draft

The final draft separates some programs into their own departments and sends other to different colleges

Published by Matthew Glover, Date: November 27, 2023
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Slippery Rock University’s interim provost Michael Zieg released the new academic department structures on Thursday.

The restructuring comes in the midst of hiring a permanent provost. Four candidates were on campus for two days each during the last two weeks hosting open forums and being interviewed for the position.

The names of the new departments are subject to change if faculty decide a different name better represents them, Zieg said.

Academic departments are divisions of a college focused on certain areas of study. Programs of study are housed within a department and include the majors students select.

The College of Liberal Arts has the most change with four additional departments in the final structure than the original proposal.

In the college, the Art, LLCW, Music and Library departments have the same final structure as the original draft.

The proposed Humanities Department with history, philosophy and gender studies has been dissolved to give history and philosophy their own departments. The dance and theatre programs have also split from the proposed Performing Arts Department to their own departments.

The proposed Social Sciences Department with the criminology, geography, political science and interdisciplinary programs has been split to give criminology its own department. The new Social Sciences Department will include the geography, political science and nonprofit management, empowerment and diversity programs. The department will also include leadership and gender studies.

The College of Health Departments went from four proposed departments to five departments. The proposed Exercise, Health Science and Management Department including the exercise science, public health and health care administration programs was split. This gives exercise science and public health programs their own departments. The department housing public health will be named Health Sciences.

The proposed Medical Sciences Department with the physician assistant and nursing programs has been changed to the Healthcare Sciences Department, not to be confused with the Health Sciences Department housing the public health program. The restructured department also includes the health care administration and management program, which was taken from the proposed Exercise, Health Science and Management Department.

The Rehabilitation Sciences Department and the Social and Behavioral Sciences Department will stay the same as proposed. Rehabilitation Sciences will house the physical therapy, occupational therapy and athletic training programs, and Social and Behavioral Sciences will house the social work, recreational therapy and psychology programs.

The College of Education and Science will go from four proposed departments to five departments. The Biology Department, which had no proposed changes, and the Engineering Department, separated from physics, are the only departments in the college with names so far.

Physics will be housed in an unnamed department with the mathematics & statistics program.

One new department, previously proposed as Physical Sciences when it included physics, will house the chemistry and environmental geosciences programs. Another department combines the computer science program and the master of science health information management with the College of Business’s cybersecurity and homeland & corporate security programs.

In the College of Business, the proposed School of Business will be separated into two currently unnamed departments. The first department will house the accounting, economics, finance and marketing programs. The second department, filled with SRU’s management programs, will house the sports management, information systems and technology management, hospitality, event management and tourism, and the general management programs.

The Military Science, Safety and Strategic Communication Departments will stay as is. Safety and Military Science did not have proposed changes, and Strategic Communication was originally proposed to be combined with the sports management program in one department.

The College of Education’s final structure is the same as the original draft proposed Oct. 10. The departments in the college will be Counseling & Development, Physical & Health Education, Special Education and Curriculum & Instruction. Curriculum & instruction was the only department changed in the college combining the early elementary/early childhood and the secondary education/foundation of learning programs under one department.

Faculty response

In an anonymous faculty response survey sent out on Oct. 18, faculty said there is no data to prove that the department restructuring will yield positive results. Zieg said that this is correct.

“Innovation requires confidence in the intrinsic strength and resilience of the organization, and the ability and willingness of its people to take measured risks,” he said.

Faculty also said the restructuring may hurt students because it will lead to unqualified instructors teaching in their major program. Zieg responded that it would allow faculty to teach classes without Article 7 votes, but department chairs would still propose schedules with approval from deans.

Faculty also worry that the programs will lose control over their curricula, hiring, tenure/promotion and other decisions. Zieg responded this concern would be curbed by developing departmental bylaws.

“I am confident that faculty can work together to develop reasonable guidelines that respect both the CBA and programmatic autonomy,” he said.

When addressing concerns of financial justification for the restructuring, Zieg said financial efficiency is only one of the reasons for restructuring, and more significant financial savings “are likely to be realized in the long term.” It will be discussed how funds can be reinvested into programs.

The Rocket will follow up with department restructuring as the development process continues next semester.

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Matt is a senior majoring in Strategic Communication and Media with a concentration in converged journalism and minor in Political Science. He enrolled at SRU as a junior in the spring 2021 semester and contributed to The Rocket before becoming the news editor in fall 2022. Before that, he wrote sports articles for The Penn at IUP. Matt spends his free time playing music, socializing with friends, and playing with his cats, Max and Odele. Matt is graduating in December and is currently actively seeking employment.

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